Cyprus Mail
Property

District Officer error in application by an alien

coucounis
The law requires stamping of the contract of sale and not its deposition at the Land Registry for the examination of the application by an alien

The acquisition of immovable property by non-EU foreign nationals requires a permit from the relevant District Officer.

According to the government’s post, the necessities for submitting applications is form Comm.145 fully and clearly completed, a cadastral survey plan, a copy of the certificate of ownership/title deed, a copy of any building permit, unless a separate title deed was issued, a copy of the contract of sale duly stamped, a level plan of any house or flat, and a division plan in the case of division of plots. For residential areas the plan must be submitted showing the position of the house in relation to the entire holding, as well as documents indicating applicants’ financial situation, copies of the pages of applicants’ passports and those of their spouses, and other relevant information.

The law governing the acquisition of immovable property in Cyprus by aliens is Cap.109, the provisions of which are outdated and it should be modernised.

There is also the phenomenon of District Officers not applying the provisions of the law uniformly. One District Officer requires the submission of a copy of the contract of sale and another requires, in the case of plots, the provision of a certificate of final approval, while the government’s posting requires a copy of the building permit. Authorities have requested a meeting with the Minister of Interior on this issue but to no avail.

The District Officer who demands the contract of sale be deposited at the land registry is in error about the law. Though it was pointed out to him that the law and the posting only require a copy of the contract of sale, he insisted on his unjustified demand.

Due to the resulting confusion of the alien purchaser the sale fell through. The District Officer essentially interfered in the contractual relationship between vendor and purchaser to the detriment of the vendor’s rights. There is a footnote at the end of the application form, which draws attention to the provisions of the law and that all arrangements for the purchase, up to the transfer of the property before a District Lands Office are the sole concern of the applicant and the registered owner of the property. The issue of the permit does not in any way imply any responsibility on behalf of the government to enforce the contractual responsibilities of the two parties. It is advisable that the applicants seek legal advice.

Cap.109, article 3 (3) of the law, which requires a valid agreement, written or oral, made in accordance with the provisions of the Contract Law or any other law in force providing for the acquisition of immovable property by an alien, does not confer upon an alien any right to acquire immovable property, except upon being granted a permit of the Council of Ministers (District Officer). Also, Article 3(4) provides that nothing in the provisions contained in Cap.109 shall affect the right of an alien to do any act specified in section 2 of the Sale of Lands Law No. 81(I)/2011. The purpose of submitting the contract of sale at the land registry is to create an estate in land burdening the immovable property referred to in the contract of sale. Cap.109 does not impose an obligation to deposit the contract for the purposes of examination or issuance of permit. Additionally, it provides that any registration of immovable property effected in contravention of this section shall be null and void.

The Minister of Interior ought to intervene in order for the District Officers to apply the law uniformly and correctly, as well as to proceed with the modernisation of the particular legislation.

 

George Coucounis is a lawyer practicing in Larnaca and founder of George Coucounis LLC, Advocates & Legal Consultants, email: [email protected]          `

 

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